Built at a cost of $850,000, the center features a larger park-and-ride lot with room for up to 130 vehicles on the southwest corner of 66th Street and York Av. S. near JC Penny. Metro Transit also put in three waiting shelters with lights and on-demand heat, and a rain garden. Real time departure signs, security features and electrical vehicle charging stations will be installed later this year, said Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland.
For the past six months, bus riders have been using a temporary park and ride lot on the northeast side of the mall. Prior to that, the mall's designated park and ride lot had been at 69th Street and York Av. S. That lot, with room for only 60 vehicles, was closed in June to make way for a 10-story apartment complex called One Southdale.
Over the years, buses have served riders from three different locations near mall entrances and parking lots. The new transit center, designed by Hay Dobbs and built by American Liberty Construction, should provide a permanent bus stop, Siqveland said.
About 800 passengers a day catch buses at Southdale, which is served by Routes 6, 515, 538, 579, 684 and 694S.
Southdale, the nation's oldest indoor mall, has long been a regional hub for Metro Transit. Bus service began in the 1950s when the mall opened. The mall was site of one of the region's first park and ride lots and origin of some of the first express routes to downtown Minneapolis. It has served as a hub for State Fair express service.
Today Metro Transit operates two express routes from Southdale, route 578 to downtown and route 579 to the University of Minnesota. SouthWest Transit route 684 runs from Chanhassen to the University of Minnesota with a stop at Southdale.